Continuing a decades-long tradition, soldiers from Fort Carson, Colorado, are partnering with local community organizations to prepare Thanksgiving meals this week for Colorado Springs residents in need, soldiers running the event told Army Times.
This year, thirteen of the post’s soldiers, mostly 4th Infantry Division culinary specialists, started preparing the 2,700 meals Sunday night, according to garrison spokesperson Brandy Gill. The Salvation Army will begin distributing the meals Thursday to local residents who may not have such a meal available to them, such as the elderly and homeless people.
Army Times spoke with three people at the core of the effort: Chief Warrant Officer 3 Amanda Hoxie, the division’s senior food advisor; Gregory Joell, a civilian who works as the post’s food program manager; and Pfc. James Harris of Las Vegas, a 19-year-old culinary specialist who volunteered to forego his holiday weekend for the event.
“When we go into this event, we are working 24/7 for three days straight,” Hoxie said. She added that the event exemplifies “selfless service” from the junior troops involved. “These soldiers are giving up time with their families...not going home or taking leave.”
Joell, the food program manager, said the annual Thanksgiving meals also provide a valuable chance for students at the division’s culinary academy to hone their mass cooking skills outside of the chow hall setting.
According to Gill, the post’s spokesperson, this year’s culinary marathon will yield “approximately 300 turkeys, 20 cases of green beans and vegetables, eight cases of dressing/stuffing and eight cases of instant mashed potatoes that were donated by local organizations to the Salvation Army.”
Harris, the junior cook, confessed he’s historically had an introverted personality and said he’s excited to get into the community to work on his people skills. He added that he joined the Army to “do something different while figuring out what I want to do in the long term.”
But for now, the young soldier is focused on a more immediate challenge.
“I’ve never really dealt with turkeys before,” Harris explained.
Davis Winkie covers the Army for Military Times. He studied history at Vanderbilt and UNC-Chapel Hill, and served five years in the Army Guard. His investigations earned the Society of Professional Journalists' 2023 Sunshine Award and consecutive Military Reporters and Editors honors, among others. Davis was also a 2022 Livingston Awards finalist.